The Overview of Buddhist Tantra, subtitled general presentation of the classes of Tantra, captivating the minds of the fortune ones, is a scholarly
exposition of the framework of Tantric practice presented by its author, Panchen Sonam Dragpa, in a methodical and accessible manner.
Detailed explanations within this book include: the historical emergence of Buddhism in our world as interpreted by various Buddhist traditions;
the differing tenets of the sects, and the differences between the vehicles (yanas); the doors to the path to liberation; and the classes of Tantric
practice leading to that state of liberation.
This book will prove to be an invaluable reference text for practitioners of Buddhist Tantra, as well as being informative for readers interested in
Buddhist Tantra in particular and in Tibetan Buddhism in general.
You have developed "merit" shining like the sun. Through your skill in learning, debate and
writing, As illuminating as one hundred thousand sun rays, You have developed in You a complete knowledge of the entire sutras
Resembling a garden of flowers in full bloom. The power of your speech is like the sun; The fame of your
has reached the three realms of this world.
O sonam Dragpa, the teacher of teachers! I bow down at your feet.
the vast garden of Your great teachings, The intelligent young people gather for The 'six ultimates' and the 'four modes of
Just as they are attracted to The one hundred thousand types of nectar Dripping from a flower of one hundred
petals. May I be able to experience The taste of the secret tantra!
Panchen Chos-rje bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal, the holder of sutra and Vajrayana teachings, was a master whose outstanding learning and spiritual
accomplishments are well known b all the learned ones in Tibet. His first incarnation came in the form of one of the five prestigious disciples of
Lord Tsong-kha-pa and became known as Vinaya Holder Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan. Then came Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal, the author of the
present text. The next was mNga'-ris sPrul-sku Grags-pa rgyal-mtshan. In this way, a line of his incarnations, each with the grags-pa surname,
Panchen bSod-names grags-pa-spal was born in the 14th century in rTsed-thang in the Lho-kha region of Central Tibet. He entered the great seat
of learning, Se-ra theg-chen-gling monastic university, where he became the personal disciple of spiritual master Dhon-yod dang-Idan and His
Holiness the second Dalai Lam dGe-dun rgya-mtsho. Under them, he studied the entire teachings of sutra, tantra and their commentaries, and
became known for this outstanding learning. He also received from them the empowerments, reading transmissions, guides and instructions of
spiritual training. On becoming the fully blessed one, the Dalai Lama appointed him the abbot of the Blo-gsalgious College, one of the four
colleges of 'Bras-dpung- the most prestigious monastic. He continued to be the abbot of this college for the next six years; and after him the
tenure for each of his successors in this position was fixed for a period of six years, a rule that is followed even today.
He was then appointed the head of the dGe-Iugs-pa order, the throne holder of dGa'-Idan, thus becoming the 15th regent of Lord Tsong-kha-pa,
the second Buddha. In his eulogy to him, mKhas-grub dGe-legs dpal-bzang says :
O Lama, the second successor of the Unsubduable one,The regent of the Lord of Dharma, You are the one who made the virtuous
qualities thrie; You are the one who ascended to the golden throne up-lifted by the fearless lions. May your success thrive
He continued to be the throne holder for the next seven years, during which time he promoted the spread of Lord Tsong-kha-pa's precious
teachings, the dGe-lugs tradition, across the land in all directions. He also paid special attention to the practice of monastic rules and the
learning and meditation of Buddhism in the monasteries such as Se-ra, 'Bras-spungs, sKyo-mo-lung, Phag-mo chos-sde, Nye-sdings, 'Od-sna and
Chos-sde rin-chen etc. and improved them to a great extent. He taught the Third Dalai Lama bSod-nams rGya-mtsho as the latter's spiritual
master. It was form him that the Dalai Lama received the name bSod-nams.
His contributions in the literary field are enormous; and, indeed, they are the most valuable od all his contributions. Tson-kha-pa has rightly said
Of all one's deeds, The deeds of speech are the most valuable.
Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal was a preson with an extraordinary talent for teaching, debate and writing. In his colophon to dBu ma'ispyi don
zab don gsal ba'I sgron me, he wrote:
In the field of teaching, I am [next to none!] Knowing that I would outdo them in this field, Arya Asanga and his brother transmigrated into
In the field of debate, I am [next to none!] Knowing that I would find out the areas they had contradicted and that I would examine them and put
forth my arguments, the logician Digh-naga and Dharmakirti tactfully bypassed me.
In the field of writing, I am [next to none!] [In my eyes,] Arya-sura was just good at spreading the works, which are like 'disputes between an
insect and a field. I am the learned man. Peerless in the field of teaching, debate and writing!
For some this passage might sound utterly nonsensical, but the most learned master of our age, the talented teacher, logician and writer, the late
tutor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Yongs-dzin Khri-byang rDo-rje- Chang, said: "Now, some people of our time, who consider themselves
learned scholars, think that this is utter nonsense; but they are wrong.
Panchen bSod-nams grags-pa-dpal wrote over 45 volumes of books dealing with many different subjects, such as the commentaries on the sutras
and tantras, the saddhana manuals of the tutelary deities, history, religious history and so forth. Among these, one that is very important for all
who wish to learn and meditate on the path of the practical aspect of Buddhism in general and that of Vajrayana in particular is the Legs bshad
rgyud sde spyi'i rnam par bzhag pa skal bzang gi yid 'phrod. In this book, he has explained precisely how the four tentras differ from one another.
He has also fully described the stages of the two spontaneous path practices of the Vajrayana tradition, dealing with the 'six ultimates' and the
'four modes of transmission', thus interpreting without mistake the intention of Adhi-Buddha Vajradhara.
May the reprint of text, which the Library of Tinetan works and Archives is publishing herewith, bring peace and happiness in this world!
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